The Cypriot government is mobilizing its embassies abroad to help sell a stock of six million kilos of halloumi cheese outside the EU after demand plummets due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Trade Minister Natasa Pilides told MPs on Tuesday demand has collapsed over the past year due to lockdowns across Europe that have shut down the hotel sector and hampered tourism on the island of vacation.
The traditional delight is the island’s largest and most recognizable export, said Pilides.
“Through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we have contacted all the embassies to help dispose of the stocks through bilateral agreements,” she said.
In April, the European Union registered halloumi as a protected designation of origin (PDO) after Cyprus filed for PDO with the European Commission in July 2014 for cheese made mainly from milk sheep and / or goat.
Although cheese makers say exports are picking up, they are selling fresh produce because if they offload old stocks to regular customers, prices would drop.
“The possibility of sending larger quantities to our regular customers in the EU means that we would have to lower the prices drastically, which would lead to a devaluation of the product,” said Andreas Andreou, head of the Producers’ Association. Cyprus dairy.
In any case, stocks of halloumi produced before October 1 cannot carry the PDO mark, which is why authorities are looking for markets outside the bloc.